Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 10:45 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour 10:45 pm, 19th January 2011

My Lords, this is an important amendment and my noble friend Lord Lipsey has shown foresight in raising the matter. He will also have seen Amendment 79, which is in the name not of one of our colleagues on this side but of the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. The number of constituencies named in that amendment include not only Orkney and Shetland, the Western Isles in their Gaelic name and the Isle of Wight, but the Isle of Anglesey, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, the Highland Council area and Argyll and Bute. As my noble friend said, a number of us have tabled amendments in relation to areas that we have a particular knowledge of. My noble friend Lord McAvoy tabled one in relation to the Royal Borough of Rutherglen, which includes Cambuslang and Halfway, if I remember correctly.

I tabled an amendment in relation to the city of Edinburgh, arguing that Edinburgh should continue to have five constituencies once this boundary review is over and that that should be an instruction to the Boundary Commission in Scotland. There are a number of other amendments in relation to this, such as Amendments 66C, 78B, 79C, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85, 85A, 85B and 85C, which we will discuss.

My noble friend Lord Lipsey, with his usual sagacity, foresight and burning of the candle at night, has managed to table an amendment that, if the Minister was wise, he would see was like the amendment to Part 1 moved by my noble friend Lord Rooker. That amendment gave the Government flexibility in relation to dates for the referendum to be held on AV so that if any changes took place, the Government would not be forced to hold it on 5 May: they could have it at any time up to 31 October. This amendment also gives the Government flexibility, which is very wise.

I will not now argue the case for the five Edinburgh constituencies. I have a lot to say about them. I have a tour d'horizon for them just as I had for South Ayrshire-or Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley as it is now. I would like to describe some of the important facets of Edinburgh constituencies, but I will leave that until we get to Amendment 80. In the mean time, I am keen to support the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Lipsey, which gives us this necessary flexibility.